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Fish Dinners Make People More Trusting

Update Date: Oct 23, 2013 06:02 PM EDT

If you want people to trust you, take them to a sushi restaurant. 

Scientists discovered that people are more likely to trust others after eating food that contains the amino acid tryptophan, found in fish, soya, eggs and spinach.

German psychologists at the Universities of Leiden and Münster wanted to see if tryptophan, which stimulates the production of serotonin, has a positive effect on mutual trust.

Previous studies revealed that the neurotransmitter serotonin plays a role in mutual co-operation.

"Mutual trust is an important condition for co-operation," Colzato said in a statement. "Society functions in the first place on the basis of mutual trust. After that, such institutions as the courts and the police come into play."

In the study, researchers gave one group of participants orange juice with added tryptophan and a second group a placebo.

Participants played a game where a "trustor" was given 5 Euros and was free to decide how much of that money he would give to a "trustee" in each round of the game. The "trustor" would receive extra money, but only if the "trustee" gave him enough money in return. Researchers explained that the money transferred to the
trustee" by the "trustor" served as an indicator of mutual trust.

The findings revealed that participants gave significantly more money to the other person when they had taken tryptophan, compared to persons who had been given a placebo.

"These results support the idea that 'we are what we eat': the food one eats has a bearing on one's state of mind. Food can thus act as a cognitive enhancer that modulates the way one thinks and perceives the physical and social world. In particular, the intake of tryptophan may promote interpersonal trust in inexpensive, efficient, and healthy ways," Colazto said in a news release.

The findings are published in the journal Psychological Science

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